Thousands of dazzling lights, Christmas music filling the nighttime air, hot cocoa and family memories are the core of holiday light displays and tree lighting ceremonies. For Austin area communities these mega-sized festivals are seasonal favorites and have become an annual ritual rooted in tradition. Every year families with kids in tow and even kids at heart flock to these illuminating holiday light displays that celebrate the magic of the season in grand style.
In the Austin area the granddaddy of them all is the Trail of Lights. If you have never been, it is definitely worth the trip down to Zilker Park. But since this article is about choices we’ve come up with some other great options for you to explore. Some are local and others require a short road trip. Either way you can spend quality family time together. And since there are enough of them, you’ll have your calendar filled up until the New Year.
Local tree lighting ceremonies, photos with Santa
City of Cedar Park Tree Lighting & Santa’s Workshop, December 6, 6:30-9 p.m., Heritage Oaks Park. For those that crave snow Cedar Park’s tree lighting festival features a snow hill and snow play areas. This hometown family-friendly favorite has plenty of fun on tap for the evening including free games, prizes, arts and crafts, live music and a yule fire. An inflatable play area and photos with Santa too. During the event the Cedar Park Police Department will be accepting new and unwrapped gifts for those in need to support the Operation Blue Santa program. Admission is free.
Leander Old Town Christmas Festival, December 7, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., N. Brushy Street. Celebrate the joy of the season during this free day-long festival that’s sure to make everyone extra merry. Begin the day on the right foot during the 5K Rudolph Run. Then stick around for all the fun. Activities include a Christmas Marketplace, live music and performances, photos with Santa, local food and craft vendors, games and a petting zoo. But there’s so much more including s’mores by the yule fire and a Christmas tree farm.
Parades, holiday light displays and local entertainment
39th Annual Christmas Stroll, December 6 from 5-9 p.m. and on December 7, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Main Street, Georgetown. You’ll definitely want to take your time enjoying all the sights, sounds, and smells of this popular Christmas festival centered on the city’s Town Square. The festive merrymaking begins on Friday night and continues through Saturday with live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts, the Bethlehem Village, ice skating and much more. Highlights include desserts with the Grinch and the annual holiday parade that kicks off on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Admission is free.
City of Pflugerville Festival of Lights and Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 7 at 4-7 p.m., downtown. The city of Pflugerville kicks-off the holidays in a big way starting with a three-hour festival featuring plenty of hometown fun. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. But the anticipation mounts for the city’s parade that begins at 5 p.m. when local organizations, marching bands, floats and performers take to the streets. The event also features free hot cocoa, carolers, a Yule log, and of course Santa. Free admission.
Holiday light displays in the Texas Hill Country
Bastrop River of Lights, November 30-January 3, Bastrop. The city of Bastrop welcomes residents and guests to enjoy the spirit of the season with its one-mile lighted Christmas-themed trail. It opens every night beginning at dusk and runs until 10 p.m. Plan on going during the trail’s opening night on November 30 when the city’s historic downtown celebrates with Wassail Fest. During the event vendors hand out free homemade mulled cider while visitors taste and vote for their favorite. The coveted People’s Choice award is given to the business with the tastiest recipe. Bastrop is rolling out the Christmas welcome mat with free events happening all month long. Check out their website for more events, dates and times.
Johnson City’s 30th annual Light Spectacular, November 29-January 5, Blanco County Courthouse Square, Johnson City. Widely-known as the hometown of our 36th president Lyndon B. Johnson, this quaint Hill Country town transforms itself into a winter wonderland of fun for everyone during the holidays. Though the light spectacular runs through the holiday season, it’s the opening festivities on November 29 and 30 that are definitely worth the trip. Mark your calendar for Friday, Nov. 29 for the annual Lighting of the Courthouse and fireworks show. Then, stick around on Saturday for the Lighted Hooves and Wheels parade. Events are free and pet-friendly. Exploring LBJ’s boyhood home and ranch are great ways to extend the trip.
Lakeside lights worth the trip
Walkway of Lights, November 22-January 1, 6-10 p.m. nightly, Lakeside Park, Marble Falls. Situated on Lake Marble Falls, this annual festival 29 years in the making transforms the city’s signature park during the holidays with more than two million lights. Brightly-colored, the lights bouncing off the lake are truly magical at night. Other highlights include photos with Santa, food concessions, and so much more. Admission is free.
Visit Travisso during the holidays
Travisso offers state-of-the-art floor plans from award-winning premier builders. Choose homes ranging in size from 1,900 to over 5,000 square feet with prices starting in the 300s. And, there’s much more including resort style amenities, over 10 miles of proposed walking and biking trails, and a future 58 acre on-site regional park perfect for your active lifestyle. Visit us in Leander today and explore our new model homes and neighborhoods. For additional information call us at 512-243-8583.